Kenyan farmers' perceptions of and adaptations to climate change before and after a radio program intervention

Mwaniki, Fiona (2016) Kenyan farmers' perceptions of and adaptations to climate change before and after a radio program intervention. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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Farmers in Kenya are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change yet their adaptive capacity remains low due to their high dependency on climate-sensitive natural resources and high poverty rates. Kenyan farmers are faced with limited public agricultural extension services, leaving them with few sources of useful information including adaptive strategies that would help them cope with the impact of climate change. Rural radio is a mass media extension tool that potentially can bridge this gap because its strength is widely regarded to lie in its ability to reach a wide audience of farmers and provide them with agricultural information in a language they understand (Chapman et al., 2003). This study investigated the potential of radio in influencing the utilisation of climate change information by farmers in Kilifi County, located along the Kenyan coast. The broad aims of this study were three-fold, to: (1) identify Kenyan farmers' perceptions of and responses to the impact of climate change; (2) develop and air radio programs that communicate climate change information to Kenyan farmers; and (3) evaluate the impact of this information on farmers' responses to climate change adaptation. A mixed methods pre- and post-intervention design provided the opportunity for triangulating results from both quantitative and qualitative data. Before the intervention, quantitative data were collected through semi-structured surveys with 421 farmers and qualitative data were derived from 11 focus group interviews and interviews with six key informants (e.g. chiefs and village elders) who provided a deeper and wider perspective of how the climate has been changing in Kilifi County. An analysis of farmers' climate change knowledge from the initial quantitative and qualitative data informed the development of radio programs with input from climate change experts from Kilifi County. Final quantitative and qualitative data collection (with the same farmers and focus groups after the intervention) and analysis enabled an assessment of the impact of climate change messages aired through radio on the farming community in Kilifi County.

The vast majority of the farmers in this study (87%) indicated before the intervention that they were already feeling the effects of climate change. Farmers viewed climate change as a risk that threatened their livelihoods, with some reporting that they had suffered negative impacts such as reduced crop yields as a result of the severe weather events (such as droughts and floods) they reported to have experienced. Consequently, many (87%) reported that their exposure to the impacts of climate change weighed negatively on their emotions, with some reporting to feel despair (23%), irritated (17%), confused (16%) and angry (13%). Farmers, before the intervention, mainly believed climate change was caused by entirely human activities (45%), followed by an act of God (34%) then by partly natural, partly human causes (10%) and natural causes (9%). Some farmers also reported that the weather information from the meteorological department could only be trusted half the time and that they used indigenous knowledge to infer changes in weather patterns and to cope with the effects of climate change.

All farmers who participated in this study initially indicated that they owned a radio or had access to one. However, only 33% of the farmers reported to have listened to the programs of who 82% claimed to have implemented something they heard. The most commonly implemented interventions, from a long list, were growing drought tolerant crops (16%), water harvesting (14%), planting trees (13%), using manure (9%), growing both traditional and modern varieties of maize (6%) and accessing loans for farming (6%). A key finding was that farmers are likely to adopt climate change interventions despite their age, gender, income, level of education and what they believed were the causes of climate change. None of these factors were found to influence their reported decision to implement climate change interventions. Barriers identified by farmers to implementing the climate change practices they heard were lack of access to financial recources, high cost of adaptation measures, lack of labour and poor access to water. The major challenges to accessing the radio programs were no access to a radio or unsuitable program timing. The main challenge reported by listeners was the inability to store or record the programs resulting in farmers relying on their own recollection when implementing strategies. Recommendations to overcome these challenges include the use of social learning approaches that encourage group rather than individual listenership (such as community listening clubs and community-based radio schools), psychological interventions to help farmers cope with the emotional impacts of climate change, strengthening/enhancing early inclement weather warning systems, integrating local knowledge into climate change adaptation/mitigation efforts, and enhancing farmers' access to financial resources that would help them adapt to climate change.

Item ID: 50002
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: adaptation to climate change, adaptive capacity, adaptive strategies, climate change information, climate change, community education, farmers, Kenya, Kenyan farmers, Kilifi County, radio, rural radio
Date Deposited: 03 Sep 2017 23:11
FoR Codes: 13 EDUCATION > 1301 Education Systems > 130101 Continuing and Community Education @ 100%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9301 Learner and Learning > 930101 Learner and Learning Achievement @ 100%
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